If you want to have a healthy balanced nutritional diet, then eggs are a fantastic food to include in your weekly diet. Sadly there has been a lot of ignorant reporting on eggs e.g. nonsense such as eggs will give you high cholesterol, etc, which has resulted in many people thinking eggs are an unhealthy food, especially egg yolks.
Humans have always eaten eggs – they are part of our natural diet. Our ancient ancestors i.e. hunter gatherers would have eaten wild bird eggs if they were lucky enough to find some. Eggs would have been a seasonal food, so hunter gatherers would not have eaten them every day.
Eggs are good for your health. Recent scientific studies show that an egg a day has no significant effect on your blood cholesterol level and does not increase your risk of heart disease. Eggs are a relatively high in fat (62% fat, 34% protein) – but this is a healthy type of fat that you need to have in your diet. A healthy diet must include a certain amount of fat. Anybody following the Paleo Diet, will know the importance of including fat in your diet. They’re low in calories with only around 80 kcals per medium egg – so they are great, especially combined with vegetables and salads as part of healthy balanced meals.
Eggs contain many vitamins. In particular, they are source of various B vitamins and are especially rich in vitamin B2 riboflavin, and vitamin B12. Eggs are also a rich source of vitamin D and they also contain vitamin A.
Eggs contain many essential minerals and trace elements, including phosphorus, iodine and selenium and iron and zinc are present in smaller amounts.
Only eat the whites??
One myth that has been doing the rounds for a number of years is that eating egg whites only, and discarding egg yolks is the healthy diet alternative. Rubbish!
Egg whites are quite low in nutritional value. Yes, the white part contains approx 50% of the eggs protein, most of which is sodium. Protein from eggs is the best type you can eat. However, the nutrients in the whites are almost zero.
The healthiest part of the egg is the yolk. This contains nearly all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs, except for vitamin C. So stop making omelettes made from egg white only!
What type of egg should I buy?
You can purchase a variety of eggs including free range, organic, omega-3 fortified, caged eggs, etc. We recommend you use eggs which are as natural as possible e.g. free range & organic. Ultimately, which ones you choose to but will depend on your budget, but whatever you do just make sure you are buying & eating eggs.
When browsing the egg shelves at a supermarket, it can be confusing as to which type is best for you. Below is a summary to help you decide:
Free Range eggs
Eggs from birds that are permitted to roam freely within the farmyard and only kept in sheds or henhouses at night. However, not all countries have legal standards defining what free range means. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has no standards and allows egg producers to freely label any egg as a free range egg.
Many producers will label their eggs as cage-free in addition to or instead of free range. In the UK, free-range systems are the most popular of the non-cage alternatives, accounting for around 28% of all eggs, compared to 4% in barns and 6% organic.
Free range does not imply in any way that the hens were fed any better than in factory farms. The “free roaming” does not provide the main feed supplies, which means that free range hens can be fed the same animal derived by products or GMO crops, as in factory farming. This is also the main reason why free range eggs are cheaper than organic eggs.
Data from reliable research is scarce however some small studies suggest the nutritional content of eggs from genuine free-range hens (hens that forage daily on a grass range) is superior to eggs produced by conventional means. These studies report higher levels of Omega 3 and Vitamins A and E, and lower levels of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and Omega 6.
Organic egg production is the production of eggs through organic means. In this process, the poultry are fed organic feed. The poultry must have access to the outdoors and are in a cage-free environment. Organic egg producers cannot use antibiotics except during an infectious outbreak. Only natural molting can occur within the flock; forced molting is not allowed. Organic certification also means maintaining of high animal welfare standards, which prohibit any cutting off of beaks or wings without anaesthesia, methods common until today in poultry industry.
Those are: organic hens are fed organic feed – which is the main factor in improving taste, nutrition and health benefits of the eggs; it is prohibited to feed animal by-products or GMO crops – which is not discontinued in free range environments; no antibiotics allowed except in emergencies (in opposite to free range, which implies usually the same levels of antibiotics as factory farming); guaranteed animal welfare standards in organic farms, which also improves the quality of both the eggs and the meat – low stress levels lead to superior quality of animal products.
Opposite to all other methods of raising hens, including the free range method in most cases, the organic certification requires a humane treatment of the chickens. The widely criticized beak cutting and “trimming” of wings without any anaesthetics, which lead to many deaths among the so treated birds, are strictly prohibited in organic farming. Also any other mistreatment of the chickens is definitely banned and would immediately lead a farmer to losing his organic certification.
Nutritionally organic eggs are the most healthy as they are the chickens that produce them are not pumped full of man-made chemicals by the farmer. Instead they have a more natural diet, producing a better egg.
Omega-3 eggs are eggs that are produced by hens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to take into the body since the body doesn’t produce them. They are thought to be crucial for overall good health and are said to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to lessen the risk of blood clots that could dangerously block arteries that connect to the heart.
Omega 3 fortified eggs are more like the wild bird eggs our ancestors ate, as they have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 eggs have three to six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids than regular eggs. Yet, a serving of two omega-3 enriched eggs still has less than half of the omega-3 fatty acids found in a 3 ounce (85 g) portion of salmon. However, many people don’t care for fish, or choose not to eat it, so by eating omega-3 eggs, they do get some omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Also, some people are allergic to fish and fish oils and cannot get omega-3 fatty acids into their bodies by ingesting these foods. Some liquid omega-3 egg products do contain fish oil to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the product.
These enriched eggs are nutritionally superior, and are available at many supermarkets and health food shops.
Caged eggs (also known as Battery eggs)
Caged eggs are laid by hens that are kept in tightly packed cages and not allowed to roam free. Most commercially sold eggs in the UK are caged eggs unless labelled otherwise on their packaging.
You won’t actually see any eggs displayed as ‘caged eggs’. Instead these are your bog standard eggs that you will see selling for the cheapest prices. Sometimes they have the misleading title of “Fresh Eggs”….
A battery hen spends her short life crammed into a small wire cage with several other hens. The floor is made of wire mesh. She has nothing to scratch at. Under EU law, the minimum floor space each bird is allowed is less than an A4 sheet of paper.
A barren battery cage prevents a hen from carrying out her natural behaviours, such as foraging for food, laying her eggs in a nest, roosting, stretching her wings and dust-bathing. This causes her extreme physical and psychological stress.
The UK government has publicly declared its support for the ban on barren battery cages coming into force in 2012. Growing numbers of consumers have already demonstrated their willingness to pay more for eggs from free-range hens.
Research has shown that the risk of salmonella is likely to be higher in intensively produced eggs in comparison to free-range or organic produced eggs.
The nutritional value of caged eggs are the lowest, and contain the highest levels of man mad chemicals.
Cage Free eggs
Due to public opposition to battery cage confinement, many egg producers are switching to cage-free systems. While these systems generally offer hens a higher level of animal welfare than do battery cage systems, the mere absence of cages doesn’t necessarily ensure a high level of welfare.
Most cage-free hens live in very large flocks that can consist of many thousands of hens who never go outside. However, unlike battery hens, cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests. Cage-free egg producers who obtain certification under the better welfare standards programs must provide perching and dust-bathing areas for the birds as well. These advantages are very significant to the animals involved.
Cage-free hens are spared several cruelties that are inherent to battery cage systems. But it would nevertheless be a mistake to consider cage-free facilities to necessarily be “cruelty-free.” So, while cage-free does not mean cruelty-free, cage-free hens generally have better lives than those confined in battery cages. The ability to lay their eggs in nests, walk and spread their wings are tangible benefits that shouldn’t be underestimated. It is a step in the right direction.
The type of eggs you purchase is up to you, and your personal finances will be a factor in your decision. We would encourage you to only buy Free Range/Organic – they are more expensive, but long term they are best for your health & conscience.
In the video below Joanna Lumley describes her outrage at how the use of hens in battery cages still dominates the UK egg production market. The actress was speaking out on the eve of the charity Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg Awards. 62% of the UK’s 27 million egg-laying hens are still kept in battery cages, ranking the UK fifth in a European league table.
How should I cook my eggs?
Eggs are one of our best sources of cholesterol. The way they are cooked determines the level of oxidized cholesterol, which can damage the cells lining your arteries and increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease. Cooking at high temperatures e.g. a griddle, results in more oxidized cholesterol than slow cooking i.e. poaching, hard-boiled eggs. If you have the choice avoid fried eggs.
5 ways to cook your eggs:
166 calories per portion
• 2 Large Quality eggs
• Water for boiling
• Pinch of salt
- Place egg in a small pan. Cover with at least 2.5cm (1″) of cold water, add a pinch of salt and place the pan on a high heat.
- When the water is almost boiling, gently stir the egg and set a kitchen
timer for one of the timings below:
3 minutes for really soft boiled yolk and set white
4 minutes for slightly set yolk and set white
5 minutes for firmer yolk and white
6 minutes for hard boiled with lightly soft yolk
7 minutes for firmly hard boiled
- Reduce heat slightly to keep water bubbling but not fast boiling and stir the egg once more.
- Once cooking time is complete, remove the egg from the pan with slotted spoon, place into egg cup and serve immediately with hot buttered toast soldiers.
To prevent egg cracking, make a small pin prick in the shell at the rounded end to allow the steam to escape.
Alternatively, a much easier way to make boiled eggs is to use an ‘egg cooker’, such as the Princess (1908) Egg Cooker as offered by Amazon:
- Unique stainless steel food steamer and egg boiler in one appliance
- Ideal for boiling 1 to 6 eggs
- Fully automatic, adjustable for number of eggs and desired hardness
- Comes with special rack for changing appliance into food steamer
- Ideal for steaming vegetables, dim sum
- Healthy cooking with no loss of vitamins
- With indication light, warning signal for when the food is ready and measuring cup
308 calories per portion Serves: 1
- 1 Large Lion Quality egg
- Water for boiling
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of vinegar
- Fill a large pan with 5cm (2″) of water.
- Add a pinch of salt and a dash of vinegar to help set the egg.
- Bring the water to a gentle boil.
- Crack the egg onto a plate and then tip it into the water.
- Set a kitchen timer for one of the timings below:
3 minutes for a completely runny egg yolk
4 minutes for a slightly set yolk with a runny middle
5 minutes for a firm egg yolk
When the cooking time is complete, carefully remove the poached egg from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. Serve immediately.
Alternatively, a much easier way to make poached eggs is to use a customised egg poaching pan e.g. Clearview Kitchen Craft Stainless Steel 4 Cup Egg Poacher Set:
- 18/10 stainless steel
- The heart of a healthier cooking range
- Developed to keep abreast of the move for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle
- Distinctive packaging and features the ‘at the heart of healthier cooking’ strap line
- Designed to attract the consumer concerned with eating well and feeling good 15 year guarantee
- Dishwasher safe.
174 calories per portion Serves: 1
- 2 Large eggs
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp coconut milk (optional)
- Olive oil
- Gently beat the eggs together with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsps of milk to the eggs for a softer result.
- Spray some cooking spray in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. When sizzling, add the egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Continue to stir the eggs for 1-2 minutes, scraping the egg off the base of the pan as it sets.
- When most of the egg has set, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for 30 seconds until fully scrambled.
SMOKED SALMON SCRAMBLE
For luxury scrambled eggs add 2oz of chopped smoked salmon
Classic recipe 163 calories per portion Serves: 1
- 2 Large eggs
- Pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tsp cold water
- Olive oil
- Gently beat the eggs together with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of cold water.
- Warm a medium frying pan over a high heat and spray with a thin coating of cooking spray.
- Pour the egg mixture into the centre of the pan and cook over a high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- As the egg begins to set, use a spatula to push the set egg towards the omelette centre.
- Continue this action until the entire egg mixture is set.
- Cook the set omelette for another minute, then loosen the edges with a spatula and fold the omelette in half.
- Tilt the pan and slide the omelette onto a warm plate.
Serve immediately on its own or with a crisp green salad.
180 calories per portion Serves: 1
- 1 Large egg
- 3 tbsp olive oil OR 25g (1oz) butter with 1 tbsp olive oil
- Grilled bacon and tomatoes to serve (optional)
- Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil or 25g (1oz) of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and place over a medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, use a knife to crack the shell and tip the egg, straight into the hot fat. Cook over a low to medium heat for 1 minute or until the white is set.
- Tilt the pan slightly and use a teaspoon to scoop the surplus hot oil/fat over the top of the egg until the yolk is cooked to your liking – around 1½ – 3 minutes.
- For over easy eggs, carefully slide a spatula underneath the cooked egg and flip over to cook the yolk for 1 minute.
- Once cooked, lift the egg from the pan using a spatula and place onto kitchen paper to drain excess fat.
Serve with rashers of grilled bacon and tomatoes.
To prevent the egg sticking to the pan during frying, sprinkle a little salt on the hot butter or oil before adding the egg to the pan.
Now stop reading this post, get yourself some eggs and starting making some eggcellent healthy meals. If you know of any good egg recipes then add it to the comments section below….